A good friend and colleague stopped by my office a couple of times today. He was not enthused about a lecture he was going to give today and was having serious doubts whether he could deliver it without inducing a coma in his students.
He teaches two sections of the same class. One of the sections is online and the other is a traditional face-to-face class. Much of the content of the course is written down in a textbook that students are required to read. He does not lecture to his online students but instead expects them to read the content of the textbook and answer the review questions at the end of the chapter. He then conducts an online discussion forum where students can ask questions and he can fill in gaps and fix misunderstandings.
He believes, and his student evaluations and test results support the fact, that his online students learn just as much about the content of the course as do his face to face classes.
He was having serious doubts about the effectiveness of delivering a lecture based on his notes on each chapter and wondered about using a similar process for his face to face class as he does with the online version. This led to us wondering just what is the best use of class time and how is the best way for students to learn the content in a class.
We had a long discussion about whether the students in the online course were learning more or less than the students who meet with him for three hours each week. We also got into what should be the role of the teacher in an online course and whether it should be different for face to face classes. Another idea we discussed was what he expected as outcomes from the classes.
Tonight as I was reading the blogs I subscribe to through my Google Reader, I came across a blog entry by Wesley Fryer
where he discusses this very issue. Wesley includes two short videos that describe a different but similar approach that is being taken in two different places. One of the videos is an interview with a college administrator who is trying to kill PowerPoint lectures at his school and the other is a news report of a high school teacher who is changing the way homework is done.
I don't lecture much because I like to use more of a project based approach with my technology in teaching classes but once in a while I do need to present some content. One example is when I need to get the students to understand the basic concepts and terminology of copyright law. I already use a podcast that I created for this purpose but have been using the podcast as a part of my lecture. The next time I teach this topic I am going to try a different approach.
Thanks to Jeff Kritzer and Wesley Fryer for providing something for me to think deeply about today.